Just Thinking…

August 20, 2009

…about, well, walking at night. I mean, I do it a fair amount, at least when I’m not in Atlanta. The place is neither fun nor safe to walk around in at night, sadly. Though I’m not gonna complain about that more–I’ve been thinking more about random interactions between walkers at night. Considering that I have facial hair and do a lot of nightwalking, it happens a lot: I happen upon someone, either walking in front or me or past me, and there’s usually a very awkward mix of exchanged glances, words, and positioning. If they’re scared of me, they walk off to the side, or they awkwardly say hello and make eye contact for an instant and then quickly look away, as if looking at me for more than that would set off some sort of anger trigger. And when I feel worried about them being scared of me (Ain’t I a piece of work?), I try to be friendly, and often worry about overdoing it or creeping them out and then try to get out of the situation so they don’t feel weird anymore. And, best case, we say hello to each other and ask how the other’s night is going. Love it when that happens, man.

Wow! 200 words on interactions between strangers on sidewalks at night. Sorry the past couple of updates have been sorta off; I’ve had an, er, odd few days. Through the next week it’ll get a little bit more exciting, I think.

But! I’m incredibly curious. How do you guys react in this sort of a situation? What thought runs through your head? Do tell, friends.

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4 Responses to “Just Thinking…”

  1. Josh said

    I also have a combination of size and facial hair that tends to make people worried late at night. I feel particularly weird when I happen to be heading in the same direction as someone in front of me. Often I try to walk substantially faster or slower than them, so I’m not following them for an extended period, and if I notice someone eyeing me or feel particularly self conscious, I often cross the street. It brings up weird self conceptual issues to realize that people see me as a potential threat/predator.

  2. Brooke said

    well, 1) you don’t scare me, so eye contact & smiles & “how’s your day”; 2) for strangers – the rule is this: give respect first, so a smile & a nod and I intentionally don’t cross away from people. Of course, in Sparkle City & the unincorporated Spartanburg County, there’s not a lot of opportunity for walking in the dark. Sadly.

  3. Nik said

    Avoid at all costs. =/ I don’t live in the best neighborhood. Although, I remember one particular time I had the telescope out in my front yard at 1 in the morning, and some guy approached me–a neighbor, but not one we interacted with at all–and was really nice. Talked about stars and stuff.

    There’s a slight chance he’s on heroin, though.

  4. Ben Lichtner said

    Nik, the spacing between the first paragraph and last sentence is priceless.

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